The celebratory season snuck up on us, and we now find ourselves in December... So here are 10 hot places to hit this month. Some are new restaurants entirely, while others are more seasoned, but all are well worth a visit.
It’s big news that one of Austin’s most beloved taco joints opened a shop right here in Houston this month. Taking over the former Gratefull Taco space on Shepherd at Fairview, the casual new restaurant promises to crank out top-notch tacos. Count us as fans of their gloriously packed breakfast tacos — and their kickin’ hot sauces.
Pilot Light / In Residence
Not content to sit on their keysters as they seek out a new space, chefs Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan are hosting intimate 8-person dinners. With spectacularly creative menus, locally sourced ingredients, and a welcome proximity to the cooking itself, these meals are truly a unique opportunity — and one that’ll only last a short time. Call (832) 713-7574 to reserve.
If you can’t wait till chef Justin Yu’s new restaurant opens in Q1 2012, stop by his Money Cat brunch service (located inside Umai restaurant) on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. throughout December. A dozen items grace the menu each week, all inspired by Asian street foods. We’re still gaga over last week’s Kabocha squash congree, coconut-lime doughnuts, chili-fried potatoes, and more. Dishes are priced from $3-$12.
Ronnie Killen is receiving some well deserved national attention. On December 20 he’ll offer a Gulf Coast “Steakhouse Holiday” dinner at the James Beard House in New York. Can’t make it to the NYC? Stop by the chef’s regular haunt in Pearland to sample the menu: sous-vide smoked short ribs, beef tenderloin with onion-bing marmalade, fried jalapeños with house-cured ham and goat cheese, and crème brûlée bread pudding.
After much anticipation, this new American kitchen and oyster bar (from the owners of BRC Gastropub and Petite Sweets) has finally opened at the corner of 11th and Studewood. Watch what you say about the joint, though, as even seemingly innocuous feedback could get you banned.
Talented young chef David Guerrero is doing outstanding things in the kitchen at Samba Grille. Indeed Samba offers one of the most exciting meals in Houston right now, but has suffered a bit from poor traffic in the up-and-down Bayou Place downtown. Now that the new Sundance Cinema is open, though, you should make this your favorite dinner-and-a-movie destination.
BlackFinn American Grille
Just opened in Midtown is BlackFinn American Grille, which already seems to have a nice crowd. The bar scene is upbeat and fun, thanks to a decent beer and cocktail selection, along with several well-placed TVs for game viewing. The meat-heavy menu is a work in progress, but you can’t go [too] wrong with the sliders.
The Capitol at St. Germain
Folks are raving about The Capitol, a retro-chic new restaurant and bar downtown at Main and Capitol. The appetizer-sized “shared bites” — like curried clams, bison bites, and ménage a foie — are most impressive, but the sandwiches and entrees deserve a second look as well. Happy hour specials are already flowing, and they promise live music in the future.
This new tapas place has plenty going for it: a beautifully updated space, an easy-to-get-to location on Durham, late dinner hours, and a lovely Spanish wine list. All the requirements! Oh wait — there’s also a great menu of Spanish favorites. Not surprisingly, we like the tortilla Espanola, the albondigas, and the spiced up paellas. Viva!
Our umpteen new grocery stores
New groceries are trending in Houston these days, offering enticements like take-away prepared foods and wine tastings in addition to the standard produce, boxes, and cans. In the past month or so we’ve had openings or announcements from Phoenicia (downtown), HEB (Montrose), Local Foods (Rice Village), Mi Tienda (North Houston), and Kroger (Heights) along with new offerings from Central Market. Are the retailers vying to match our ever-exciting restaurant scene?
Still hungry? Try our lists from previous months: